Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai declared today that he would give up his post in the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) to focus on episcopal ministry.
“After today’s ordination, I would devote every effort to episcopal ministry. It is inconvenient for me to serve the CPA post anymore,” he told the congregation at his ordination ceremony in Shanghai todoay.
Bishop Ma is the first “open” bishop in recent years to announce publicly during an episcopal ordination his intention to give up his offices in the CPA – vice chair of the Shanghai CPA and member of the standing committee of the national CPA.
Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Church in China in 2007 stated that the aim of the CPA was incompatible with Catholic doctrine.
About 1,000 people in St. Ignatius’ Cathedral responded him with long and thunderous applause.
“He needs to have much courage to speak these words as there are many government officials present. These words are not spoken to Catholics but to the officials,” said one attendee of the ordination.
Further declaring that he was “ordained as an auxiliary,” the new bishop also said: “Because of special reasons, many diocesan priests and nuns did not come here. I love you so much. You are my strength.”
The Holy See appointed Bishop Ma as auxiliary bishop but the Chinese government recognized him as “coadjutor.”
About 30 priests concelebrated the ordination Mass but only a dozen were local priests.
Most of the 86 priests of Shanghai’s “open” Church community decided to follow their conscience and avoided concelebrating with an illicit bishop that was present, sources said.
Only Coadjutor Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai, the main celebrant, put on his mitre. He and two co-ordainers – the Vatican-approved Bishops Joseph Xu Honggen of Suzhou and Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen – laid their hands on Bishop Ma’s head during the rite.
Bishop Shen has not written any explanation to the Holy See on his participation in last year’s illicit ordination in Shantou, a source close to the Vatican said.
Three other participating prelates – Bishop Joseph Cai Bingrui of Xiamen, Bishop John Baptist Li Suguang of Nanchang and the illicitly ordained Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong – did not lay hands on Bishop Ma.
Before the ordination began, about 30 diocesan priests gathered at the chapel of Bishop’s House adjacent to the cathedral to witness the reading out of the appointment of the Holy See and Bishop Ma’s profession of faith.
Some priests who did not enter the cathedral told ucanews.com they were pleasantly surprised by Bishop Ma’s speech and Bishop Zhan not laying on hands.
Bishop Ma’s “performance is quite good. At least he does not disappoint the priests who did not come today,” one of them said, adding that “we priests support him to unite us.”
At least two priests were taken away at the subway exit or held in his room before the ordination began this morning, sources said, noting that government officials feared they would disturb the ceremony.